LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Students and faculty from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary partnered with the Kentucky Baptist Convention to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the streets of Louisville Nov. 13.
Nearly 200 members of the Southern Seminary community participated in projects ranging from servant evangelism and urban outreach to international evangelism and prayerwalking as part of Reaching Out 2004 in conjunction with the KBC’s Crossover Louisville initiative.
Bill Mackey, executive director of the KBC, joined the event, partnering with two seminary students to conduct door-to-door evangelism in one of Louisville’s older neighborhoods.
“I just enjoy going out and meeting people for the first time and checking them out spiritually and … looking for an opportunity for someone to be receptive to the Gospel,” Mackey said. “Working with seminary students is encouraging.”
For Jedidiah Coppenger, a master of divinity student from Greenville, S.C., sharing the Gospel along with Mackey was a reminder that truths learned in a seminary classroom can have a powerful impact in the world.
This outreach event “has put legs on those glorious truths and helped me see that they’re not just some abstract ideas,” Coppenger said. “But they are a rock for a tough community in a tough life. This has helped move [truths] from my head to my heart with greater impact.”
Brad Hughes, a master of divinity student from Blakely, Ga., said Reaching Out 2004 was a valuable opportunity for seminary students to see the KBC’s heart for evangelism and missions.
“It’s good to have Dr. Mackey with us,” Hughes said. “To see his heart and see that our leadership is committed to evangelism is pretty powerful.”
Twyla Fagan, Southern’s director of Great Commission ministries, reported that at least two people committed their lives to Christ as a result of the outreach initiative.
“These types of events open our eyes to the reality of what’s going on around the world,” Fagan said. “We heard reports about a couple of people who were saved. But even if there was just one, it’s all worth it.”
Doug Sleigh, a Boyce College student from Prattville, Ala., partnered with Ted Cabal, a professor of Christian philosophy and applied apologetics at Southern, for an international outreach project. Sleigh and Cabal encountered a man in one home who attended church but was concerned that he had never trusted Christ for salvation.
“He attended church, but he didn’t think he was a Christian and was worried about his sin,” Sleigh said. “So we led him to commit his life to Christ.”
Harry Zimmerman, a master of divinity student from Orangeburg, S.C., who participated in an outreach project to African Americans, said Reaching Out 2004 served as a reminder of the world’s need for the Gospel.
“We can’t force the Gospel on anyone,” Zimmerman said. “But there are a lot of people hurting and a lot of people that need to hear the Word.”
Mackey noted that in addition to encountering many non-Christians, he was encouraged to find a number of believers acting as lights in their communities. One of the believers who most encouraged Mackey was a woman who recently adopted two special needs children and was attempting to spread the love of Jesus throughout her neighborhood.
“There are some wonderful witnesses in the community,” Mackey said. “It’s encouraging to see that God is at work.”
The receptiveness of people and the importance of the evangelistic task should encourage Kentucky Baptists to participate in further outreach projects, he said.
“The people have been amazingly open to let us talk with them in almost every case,” Mackey said. “The people are open to spiritual conversations. There is some ministry taking place in the community.”